Thanksgiving in Canada: where does it come from?

I’m sure that even the Aussies out there would know that America celebrates Thanksgiving in November, but did you know that Canada has its very own Thanksgiving in a separate month?

That’s right; in Canada Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October – and has been since 1957 when the date was finally locked down.

The tradition of giving thanks goes back to the First Nations people celebrating a bountiful harvest, but Canadian Thanksgiving is usually credited to early voyagers in the 16th Century giving thanks for surviving the perilous journey to Canada.

In the 1800s, Thanksgiving became an occasion to give thanks for the end of war and rebellion and then after World War I, Remembrance Day and Thanksgiving were celebrated together up until the two days were separated in 1931.

So although today this tradition speaks to the celebration of an abundant harvest, it has also historically represented a time of giving thanks for the peace that we live in.


 

Why I love Alberta: the big picture

Alberta is a beautiful province with a range of spectacular and diverse scenery.

From endless prairie grasslands to lush river valleys to the Rocky Mountains, it’s no coincidence that a number of feature films have been shot on location in Alberta.

Today’s blog is the bigger picture of what I love about Alberta and I hope these photos can capture some of that ‘big sky’ feeling for you that I have come to love.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Camping in the Rockies #2

As well as a spectacular backdrop (see Tuesday’s blog post), as you imagine the Rockies are full of all kinds of interesting wild animal and plant life.

 

I’ll start with my most ‘impressive’ first.

This female moose (cow) was happily wandering and grazing out the back of Canmore. Despite the skinny legs, she was quite big and more than happy to let me snap a couple of pics.

 

It’s a little hard to see the baby deer (foal) in the background, but these two were brave enough to get this close

 

This is a little easier to see the pair of them – the foal is on the right hand side (check out those big ears!)

 

This photo gives you a sense of how steep some of these mountains are, and there’s some ‘wildlife’ in the foreground if you look closely.

It’s times like these that I wonder if maybe the National Anthem should be ‘Ah Canada’ instead of ‘Oh Canada’?

 

 

 

 

 

Camping in the Rockies #1

One of the many things I love about Calgary is that the Rockies are only an hour away.

This is close enough to mean that you can head out after work for a mountain bike, rock climb, hike, motorbike cruise, sail, or even a ski in the winter months.

I recently enjoyed some camping in the Rockies and today’s blog is some photos that I would like to share with you.

 

This is the view from the campsite. If you notice the sharp angular peaks on the mountains, this is one of the defining features of the Rockies for me.

 

This gives you an even better idea of how majestic these mountains truly are. Look at that skyline!

 

A storm blowing in over Spray Lake and the water has turned a steely gray.

 

Things I learnt about hockey this week

So once I finally worked out where to sit (see Tuesday’s blog) I made myself comfortable and got ready for the game to start.

I didn’t catch much of what was going on but there was certainly a lot of schnazzy skating, teeth gnashing and stick whacking.

But it was the shortest game ever! Because after about 20 minutes a horn sounded and all the players left the ice.

Wow. I was surprised at how unfriendly the teams were at the end. They didn’t even shake hands or acknowledge each other – and you wouldn’t even know one of the teams had won by the indifference on their faces.

It just seemed really odd.

Which is about when it dawned on me that perhaps it wasn’t actually the end of the game. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen I had discovered the end of the first Period.

And so here’s my second hockey tip for you: Hockey has 3 periods with little breaks in between each one.

 

Not sure how to vote? Check out this Vote Compass!

In an effort to help Canadians get out there and vote in the Federal Election, the CBC has created a Vote Compass to help you identify which political party views are most similar to your own.

So far 1,278,371 people have used the Compass – which is strangely encouraging considering the general voting apathy.

(Personally I agree with the Australian method of fining people who don’t vote: it means you know you’re going to have to, and people on the whole are much more politically engaged as a result)

Click on the link below to go directly to the CBC Vote Compass and find out where you stand:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/votecompass/

But most importantly – make sure you get out there and have your say by voting on May 2nd.

Which Canada will you vote for?

Given that the Federal Election is coming up on May 2nd, I’m going to blog this week on politics.

Let’s face it: it’s time Harper was ousted, and it’s not going to happen if Canadians sit back in a fog of apathy and ignorance.

I’ve posted the following political comic in an effort to fill you in on some of the details you may not know about:

(find out more here:     http://compellingcomics.justsomeguy.com/CanadaVotes2011/Canada.html)



Trying to make friends with the Spring: I don’t even have to try

There is a magical time of year here in Canada when the Spring gets underway and the whole landscape comes alive with growth and greenery.

The snow has melted away and the trees are sprouting tiny green buds all over.

Wildflowers are popping up out of impossible places and the fields are full of stalky-legged foals and calves.

And in the city, people have emerged from their hibernation and the streets are alive with joggers, motorcycles and outdoor patios.

Although Spring takes place all over the world, it is all the more striking here because it follows such a long dark winter.

As this glorious season heralds more sunshine, less clothing and waking up to bird sounds – Canadian Spring has always taken my breath away.

And we’ve become fast friends.

This beautiful Spring photo of the Rockies was taken by Darwin Wiggett. (It really does look like that here!)

You can find out more about his work on his website:

http://www.darwinwiggett.com

Trying to make friends with the snow: I’m not giving up that easily

Despite the fact that it’s Spring here, this weekend we had 20cm of snowfall in 24 hours.

As I slipped over in it for the third time, I was determined not to let it’s heavy handed approach get me down.

I shook my fist and called out to it “That’s right snow, you and me are going to be friends!”

And in response? It just continued to blizzard at me in it’s usual obnoxious fashion.

Given that I have lived in Canada for over ten years, you would think that me and the snow would be good friends by now.

Although it’s taken me years, I can honestly say that I’ve done my bit and learnt to rug up in mittens, hat, scarf, winter coat and even snow boots.

But the snow? It’s really done very little to grow our blossoming friendship as it continues to be it’s wet, cold, sticky old self.

Winter comfort #2: bed socks

Having a mother that is an expert knitter certainly has had it’s advantages over the years. Not the least being homemade bed socks.

In fact, bed socks are one of my repeat Christmas present requests from my Mum.

It’s a win-win situation because not only does it use up her leftover wool from throughout the year but every pair is one-0f-a-kind and always packs small and light.

Despite their name I don’t actually wear my bed socks to bed, preferring to wear them about the house instead.

And given that they’re made from leftovers, I have them in all kinds of outlandish woolly colors. This has led to the belief that the goofier, the better.

So why not keep warm and have some fun with it at the same time?

I have a couple of pairs right now, but these muted ones below are my current favorite.